Rivals EMC, IBM to Work Together

Though fierce enemies competing for real estate in the high-end storage market, EMC and IBM Monday managed to put aside their differences in the spirit of cooperative competition and to position themselves better to serve customers.

Though they have done so with other vendors, Hopkinton, Mass.’s EMC and Armonk, N.Y.’s IBM have never exchanged application programming interfaces (APIs) before.

Under this new licensing agreement, the companies will extend interoperability and compatibility for their storage systems, servers, and software.

The goal is to make it easier for customers to employ both EMC and IBM products in the same storage environment, where compatibility and heterogeneity are key attractions for enterprise customers looking to raise return-on-investment (ROI) while lowering total-cost-of-ownership (TCO).

Specifically, EMC and IBM have agreed on a framework for the exchange of programming interfaces for their disk storage products, including interfaces that conform with the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S), a protocol for storage network interoperability that was formerly known as Bluefin.

The two companies have also agreed upon a framework to extend their existing cooperative support agreement to include a wider range of servers, storage, and software products, and to support more rapid escalation and resolution processes for issues arising in joint installations.

Lastly, IBM has licensed interfaces for its TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server to EMC to support its rival’s ability to make IBM zSeries mainframe features compatible on EMC’s Symmetrix DMX storage systems, including Peer-to-Peer Remote Copy and Extended Remote Copy (XRC) functions. IBM’s FlashCopy, Multiple Allegiance, and Parallel Access Volumes (PAV) will also be supported on Symmetrix systems per the agreement.

Chuck Hollis, vice president of platforms marketing at EMC, said that by licensing IBM’s zSeries technologies, EMC’s Symmetrix systems will appear as IBM’s Shark storage system does in an enterprise environment. Hollis said EMC had performed mainframe compatibility testing for years, noting that this formalization will satisfy customers.

“What this allows us to do is provide more support for mainframe customers through the exchange of management interfaces,” Hollis told internetnews.com during a call.

While not an out-and-out exchange of application programming interfaces (APIs), Hollis said the two vendors will swap command line interfaces (CLIs), which are user interfaces for a computer’s operating system or an application in which the user responds to a visual prompt by typing in a command on a specified line, receives a response back from the system, and then enters another command.

IBM will gain undisclosed licensing revenue from the agreement, said Roland Hagan, IBM vice president of storage marketing, on a conference call.

“Our customers are demanding better interoperability among vendors in the storage space,” Hagan told internetnews.com. “The are depending on us to help them find ways to spend less and less time on on the underlying complexity in the plumbing.”

Hagan said disaster recovery is one of the main areas of focus for the technology pact.

“Customers now have an assurance that we are working torgther actively to support both environments,” Hagan continued, noting that previous collaboration between the companies was on how to solve point-to-point heterogeneity issues.

Story courtesy of internetnews.com.

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Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for CIO.com covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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